ILM’s global art department manager talks legacy
Why does ILM have a global art department?
The art department is always operating in pants on fire mode. We can’t forecast when we might get a call from a director, so we have to be flexible. A director might need four artists on a show starting right now. Four studios in four countries gives us more reach to find resources.
Are the artists all on a pipeline?
We’re pipeline oriented in visual effects, so if you start building something in the pipeline, you can go back 50 iterations. But we keep the artists slightly separate. We don’t want them bogged down in shots. They need to be freeform and loose, to get to the target fast by doing concepts quickly. Even when they work in 3D, it’s very kitbashing. Some artists use Maya, some 3ds Max, Modo, ZBrush, Cinema 4D, Poser, SketchUp, Photoshop. One artist won’t give up Softimage XSI. The image is what’s important. It’s usually a hybrid of 3D and 2D.
Do they collaborate across studios?
Everyone is hands on. We always partner an art director with a concept artist, and art directors work with and mentor people in different studios. We have to work that way to be flexible. There are time zone issues, but it’s important everyone feels part of a team. We do weekly calls and updates, and monthly reviews with Dennis Muren. He has a great eye for cinema. He knows how to create a focal point for a frame. If you aren’t doing that, you’re failing. I don’t want artists to forget what came before, to lose people’s wisdom. We’re all here because George Lucas had an idea.